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French breast implant firm's former execs arrested

Published Jan. 27, 2012

PARIS — Police on Thursday arrested two former executives of the now-defunct French company at the center of a breast implant scandal affecting tens of thousands of women worldwide.

Jean-Claude Mas, who founded and ran implant-maker Poly Implant Prothese until it closed in March 2010, was detained as part of a judicial investigation in Marseille into manslaughter and involuntary injuries, an official said. A regional official said former No. 2 executive Claude Couty also was detained.

The suspect PIP implants have been pulled from the market in several countries amid fears that they could rupture and leak silicone into the body. The suspect implants are made with industrial-grade silicone instead of medical-grade gel, which investigators say was done to save money.

Mas, 72, was arrested before dawn at a family residence in the Mediterranean resort town of Six Fours Les Plages.

Investigating Judge Annaick Le Goff opened the inquiry after a woman in the southwestern Gers region filed a lawsuit after the 2010 cancer death of her daughter, who had received a suspect implant. Since then, as many as 3,000 other complaints by alleged victims have been included in the case file.

PIP's website said the company had exported to more than 60 countries. The silicone-gel implants in question are not sold in the United States. According to estimates, 42,000 women in Britain have the implants, 30,000 in France, 9,000 in Australia and 4,000 in Italy. Nearly 25,000 of the implants were sold in Brazil.